PC gone mad I tell you

Ann Widdecombe is vying for Most Outrageous this week. I think she has a shot at it.

It is “very difficult” to be an active Christian in modern Britain, former government minister Ann Widdecombe, who lives in Dartmoor, has claimed.

The ex-MP blamed “quite militant secularism” and equality legislation for people feeling they could not express their faith.

She claimed that respect for people’s personal views meant people could have been a fascist in post-1945 Britain or a Communist during the Cold War but Christians now had started “suppressing the expression of conscience”.

And yet, there the Archbishop still is, archbishoping away.

Ms Widdecombe, who converted from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism in 1993, said: “Christians now have quite a lot of problems, whether it’s that you can’t display even very discreet small symbols of your faith at work, that you can’t say ‘God bless you’, you can’t offer to pray for somebody, if it’s an even bigger stance on conscience that you’re taking, some of the equality laws can actually bring you to the attention of the police themselves.

“So I think it is a very difficult country now, unlike when I was growing up, in which to be a Christian, an active Christian at any rate.”

Ah, look what she did there. She’s not talking about “conscience,” she’s talking about people shoving their religion on everyone else.

When we were engaged in the height of the Cold War, when there were all those weapons lined up on the borders of the Warsaw Pact countries pointing straight at us, you could still, in this country, proclaim yourself as a Communist, you could still stand for Parliament for that matter as a Communist.

You wouldn’t get in but you could stand. You could sell the Morning Star on street corners.

Is she claiming that now you can’t stand for Parliament as a Christian? To the best of my knowledge, you can not only stand for Parliament as a Christian, you can even get in. So…her comparison doesn’t do what she wants it to do, does it.


  1. AsqJames says

    Happily, and in a radical departure from accepted internet standards, the comments are mostly sane.

  2. says

    …whether it’s that you can’t display even very discreet small symbols of your faith at work, that you can’t say ‘God bless you’, you can’t offer to pray for somebody…

    How much of that is actually true? It sounds like it’s, at best, a warped version of reality. I don’t for a moment believe that a person can’t offer to pray for someone else, for example. It may be true that they can’t do so in their capacity as a government official, but that’s a rather big point to leave out.

    This sounds like a familiar tune: Christians complaining that they have to follow the same rules as everyone else; protestations that not being granted special privileges is tantamount to persecution.

  3. Al Dente says

    It is “very difficult” to be an active Christian in modern Britain, former government minister Ann Widdecombe, who lives in Dartmoor, has claimed.

    No, Widdecombe, it’s quite easy to be an active Christian. Your complaint is actually that Christianity is no longer given the deference you think it deserves. People don’t automatically tug their forelocks when you parade your religion in public. Nobody is stopping you from going to church, from publicly confessing your Catholicism, or in any other way being a Christian. However nobody is particularly impressed when you do these things. This upsets you and so you’re whining. What’s really annoying is that nobody but your fellow Christians are showing any sympathy for your whines.

  4. Sili says

    Not only can one get in. Bishops still get a free ride into the Lords.

    Of course not the Catholic ones that Widdy now favours in her peculiar hatred of women.

  5. Erp says

    I understand, however, that one is no longer required to be Christian to be seated in Parliament.

    Took some doing but first Quaker in 1832 (since Quakers don’t baptize many don’t consider them Christian); Jews were first seated in 1858 (first elected in 1847); first atheist in 1886 (elected first in 1880, affirmation for atheists allowed in 1888); first Parsi in 1892; first Sikh in 1992; first Muslim in 1997.

    However as long as certain bishops get seats in the House of Lords because they are bishops, Christians as a group can hardly claim discrimination (certain subgroups can).

  6. cartomancer says

    It’s so difficult being a christian in Britain these days that you can only get the Plymouth Herald to publish your bigoted opinions for free, rather than the Times!

  7. throwaway says

    Seems she’s complaining that not all interactions revolving around their special club, steeped in superstitious tradition or bigotry, are welcome. But I am reading a bit more into it, probably than I should be, and her main issue is that she cannot exert the fabled power and deadly consequence of flippancy towards members of The One True Church any longer. This limiting of freedom to do harm sanctioned by their religion (specifically their stances on contraception and homosexuality) by the government is, to her, I think, a chisel to a gravestone marking an epitaph. I hope we’re both right.

  8. Latverian Diplomat says

    “you can’t offer to pray for somebody”

    I suggest what she really means is that while once people felt compelled to express pro forma gratitude for such a gesture, today they are more likely to make it cleat that they find it intrusive and awkward.

  9. Tim Harris says

    ‘Tom Pearce, Tom Pearce, lend me your grey mare… For we want for to go to Widdecombe Fair…’ Well, there is clearly a nasty ghost or two still riding in the Dartmoor area, and not only on stormy nights. Alas, that AW should sully it with her presence. It is – or used to be – one of the wildest and most beautiful (to my eyes) parts of England, and fascinating both geologically and archaeologically, as well as for its flora and fauna.

  10. Maureen Brian says

    The woman talking is nonsense. The Speaker of the House of Commons has a Chaplain, a CofE vicar who conducts daily prayers, a weekly service in Parliament and is top person for all pastoral care.

    Of course, the Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin may not be exactly to Ann Widdecombe’s taste but you don’t get also to be a chaplain to the Supreme Governor of the Church of England without being a Christian. I’m inclined to think that Mr Speaker and HM can spot a good woman when they see one.


  11. latsot says

    She seems conveniently to have forgotten that the Prime Minister is a Christian who recently declared Britain a Christian Country, whether we inhabitants like it or not. The Deputy Prime Minister is openly atheist, but as far as I know, he only mentioned it once, presumably for the obvious reason.


    How much of that is actually true?

    Exactly none of it. Widdicome is referring to two cases here, both of which were blown out of proportion by the Daily Mail and the former Archbishop of Canterbury (who, not entirely coincidentally, was a DM columnist). A nurse and an airline worker were told not to wear crosses outside their uniforms. Nobody else was allowed to wear jewellery either, but they decided the rules didn’t count for them. They took this to the court of human rights, arguing that people of other religions were allowed to wear turbans and other religious paraphernalia so they should be allowed to wear crosses. Williams (and Widdicome) got very cross about it indeed and neither has stopped mentioning it every time they open their mouths ever since. The other case was of a nurse who tried to force prayer on a patient who didn’t want it and appeared in numerous newspaper photographs looking sad.

    It is absolutely not the case that people aren’t allowed to wear crosses at work or offer to pray for people. For one thing, the airline employee won her case. The nurse (the crucifix one) didn’t, on entirely reasonable health and safety grounds. I’m pretty sure the hospital trust bent over backwards to accommodate her, though, saying she could have a cross brooch or wear it inside her uniform. She wasn’t having any of that, she just wanted to make some noise to show how persecuted Christians are in Britain. I think the other nurse was suspended but reinstated after the fuss had died down. Her defence was that she always offers to pray for her patients so why should she be punished this one time.

    But this doesn’t stop Widdicome and others from banging on about the persecution of Christians at every possible opportunity.

  12. says

    How much of that is actually true?

    To my knowledge, there are some private (!) companies that have guidelines that say yor religion stays at home, like BA

    It sounds like it’s, at best, a warped version of reality. I don’t for a moment believe that a person can’t offer to pray for someone else, for example. It may be true that they can’t do so in their capacity as a government official, but that’s a rather big point to leave out.

    Depending on how you do it, to whom you do it and about what you do it I totally believe that “offering to pray for somebody” can totally count as harassment. If somebody explicitly told you (generic) they would like you to refrain from it, or if your reaction to an unmarried woman in your office telling everybody the good news that she’s pregnant is to offer her to pray for her soul and the poor child’s soul, you would be totally out of bounds.

  13. says

    Anne… Anne…


    It was 2009, okay? I know, I know… Fry and Hitchens embarrassed you and Archbishop Onaiyaken quite badly; made both of you look terrible. And I know, I know… they forced you both to face some of the Catholic Churches worst modern acts, and the only answer you could muster was “oh you would talk about that murder and that murder… you never mention the fact that I give my father birthday presents”. And yes, I know that neither of you were utterly unable to justify, try as you might, the Church’s stances on homosexuality and condoms and such, and instead whined about how these discussions always bring up sex…

    But it was 2009, okay? Fry and Hitchens won that debate fair and square. Hell, Hitchens is even dead, now! It’s time to get over it.

  14. says

    Ms. Widdecombe, really, you should thank us, I figure.

    Fact is, plenty of people pretty much always figured the privileging of your religion in public and social discourse was pretty obnoxious. And, really, we figured you were pretty obnoxious…

    … but call it the Fog of Privilege, whatever, you wandered around happily oblivious. You never knew, how often, behind those polite, forced, deferential smiles–smiles composed effectively under duress–there was both pity and disgust…

    So look on the bright side. You know now. Yes, yes, I’m sure you miss your obliviousness. Many of us who have had our privilege pointed out to us, in whichever dimension we had it, may just know a piece of that feeling…

    … but think of it as being force-fed the red pill. In the long run, I think you will find it’s for your own good. As having that privilege is no longer sustainable, at least you know where you stand…

    … or would you rather be a bit like a pathetic, drunken sot, three in the morning after the dinner party, still not cluing in that everyone else has gone home, and you’ve outstayed your welcome, everyone too polite to tell you, look, you’ve had too many, time to call a cab, now?

    And no, we’re not your friends, exactly, Ms. Widdecombe. Let’s not insult each other’s intelligences…

    But it’s like they say: your friends shouldn’t have to tell you.

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